Thu, 04 Jun 2020

UN Warns Right-Wing Extremist Groups Getting Bolder, More Lethal

Voice of America
02 Apr 2020, 10:05 GMT+10

WASHINGTON - Nations around the world are growing increasingly worried about violence linked to extreme right-wing terror groups, with new research showing there has been a 320% jump in the number of related attacks over the past five years.

Deadly attacks over the past year, like the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and in El Paso, Texas, in the U.S., as well as a couple in Germany, have gotten most of the international attention.

But the research, highlighted Wednesday in a new report from the United Nations' Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, also warns the trend is worsening, with attacks by individuals linked to right-wing extremist groups becoming ever-more deadly, while the groups themselves are getting increasingly sophisticated.

"Although extreme right-wing terrorism is not a new phenomenon, there has been a recent increase in its frequency and lethality," UN-CTED said in its April trends report.

And intelligence from U.N. member states indicates that level of violence is unlikely to taper off, with the West - Europe, North America and Australasia - continuing to see the brunt of such attacks.

"Recent evidence suggests that there has been a greater exchange of views between like-minded individuals, both online and offline," according to the report. "These connections allow extreme right-wing groups to improve their tactics, develop better counter-intelligence techniques, solidify their violent extremist views and broaden their global networks."

The U.N. report echoes warnings from the European Union and the United States, both of which have warned about the threat from right-wing extremism.

In the EU, the number of arrests in connection to right-wing terrorism more than doubled, from 20 in 2017 to 44 in 2018, with counterterrorism officials cautioning the problem was likely to get worse.

"While the vast majority of right-wing extremist groups across the EU have not resorted to violence, they nevertheless help entrench a climate of fear and animosity against minority groups," the EU concluded in its 2019 Terrorism Situation and Trend report. "Such a climate, built on xenophobia, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and anti-immigration sentiments, may lower the threshold for some radicalized individuals to use violence."

The U.S. has likewise voiced growing concerns about the rise of right-wing extremism, putting it on par with the threat from the Islamic State terror group.

"Racially, ethnically motivated violent extremists were the primary source of all ideologically-motivated lethal incidents and violence in 2018 and 2019 and have been considered the most lethal of all domestic violent extremists since 2001," FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers in Washington this past February.

 There have also been persistent concerns that U.S.-based groups, like the Atomwaffen Division and the Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.), have been establishing connections with similar groups in Europe and Russia.

There is also evidence that a growing number of members have been willing to take up arms, with hundreds flocking to Ukraine to get battlefield experience.

The U.N. report finds those types of connections and relationships have only gotten stronger, with groups making efficient use of the Internet and social media to exchange ideas and raise money.

 Additionally, the UN report warns the spread of far-right rhetoric is allowing extremist groups to connect with other fringe elements of society and expand their ability to recruit.

 "These synergies allow more obscure misogynist groups-such as incels (involuntary  celibates) - to act as a bridge to violent extreme-rightwing groups and individuals," the report said.

VOA's Masood Farivar contributed to this report.

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